'Riverdale' Musical: Casey Cott Dishes on Transforming Into Hedwig and Kissing KJ Apa! (Exclusive)
By Leanne Aguilera
WARNING: If you haven't watched this week's musical episode of Riverdale, leave now! For everyone else, it's time to discuss all those toe-tapping performances and jaw-dropping twists...
We're totally wigging out over all the surprise smooches in this week's episode of Riverdale.
In this year's musical episode, the hit CW drama treated fans to high-energy performances from Hedwig and the Angry Inch -- and we're pleased to say that Kevin Keller finally got his time to shine!
In preparation for Riverdale High's annual variety show, Kevin crowned himself with Hedwig's iconic blonde wig and officially cemented his place as one of the best performers in town. In celebration of this glittery achievement, ET called up 27-year-old actor Casey Cott to get the exclusive inside scoop on what it was really like to step into Hedwig's incredibly high heels.
Plus, Cott is revealing how that passionate kiss with KJ Apa came to be and what's coming next now that Betty and Archie's romance seems to have sparked back up again.
ET: Congratulations on an amazing performance! What was your initial reaction when you discovered that this year's Riverdale musical would be Hedwig and the Angry Inch?
Casey Cott: I was pumped! I'd seen John Cameron Mitchell do it on Broadway and I'd seen the movie and when I found out that Stephen Trask, who wrote the music, was going to come, I was super excited. And I'm buddies with Darren Criss, who did it on Broadway, and his manager was actually visiting me in Vancouver when I found out we were going to do it. I was talking to her all about it and she was telling me stories and how she worked with Taye Diggs when he was doing it, so I was really excited. It was definitely the topic of conversation for a week for anyone within earshot of me.
You looked incredible in the full Hegwig glam! When you first put the hair, makeup, clothes and everything on for the first time, how did you feel looking in the mirror?
So we did a full hair and makeup test and it was, like, four hours of just trying the different looks on and it was just so much fun. I had never done drag before so I was very humbled. It was just a really incredible experience and my hat is off to every single drag performer in the world. I think they're incredible and again this was a very humbling experience. I loved every second of it.
Do you have a favorite performance from the episode?
I mean, "Tear Me Down" was really fun. It was just really fun to shoot and I laugh looking back on it because in between every take, I had to sit down on this chair and have all these fans on me because my makeup was melting off. [Laughs] We were all just having fun and in every take, something else would pop up and happen, or we'd add something, or we'd do something different with the cast in the audience, so it got more and more and more fun. We just all had a blast.
Seeing Kevin and Archie share a smooch during "Tear Me Down" was definitely the highlight of the night! Was that kiss originally in the script?
[Laughs] So that, actually, was not in the script, but it is in the script of Hedwig the musical. There's a moment where Hedwig is in the audience and just picks an audience member and plants one on them. So we were doing "Tear Me Down" and there was no kiss in the script or anything. At one point, I kind of go through the crowd and I'm just kind of playing with people or whatever. Then Tessa [Leigh Williams,] our writer, the director and a couple people were in between takes in different rooms and I said, "You guys, I think Hedwig is going to kiss Archie in this scene."
So I came through and I planted one on [KJ's] cheek and I had all this lipstick on, so he had lipstick all over his face -- and he loved it! And after I went back in on the next take through, I went to plant one on his cheek and he turned his mouth and just layed it right onto me! So that was a 50/50 kiss -- he definitely leaned into it. But after we got it, we went back and we just had so much fun and I was so excited that that happened. It's kind of a nod to the musical, so I thought that was awesome.
KJ just seems so game for anything and it's great!
Yeah, he's totally game and he's the best. KJ is the ultimate improvisor, so he's hilarious and he's awesome. I just thought it was cool, you know?
There was another spontaneous kiss in this week's episode, but this one was between Betty and Archie! What was your reaction to this relationship twist when you read it in the script?
I honestly didn't think much about it when it happened -- as characters are kissing other characters in Riverdale all the time -- but I have caught wind that there might be fans who are up in arms about it. But I think Betty and Archie are kind of -- I mean, I said it in the first episode -- they were supposed to be the endgame, so we'll see what happens. I'm sure there will be many [relationship] swaps in the remainder of Riverdale before it ends, so I would say whether you're excited for it or not excited for it, just strap in because I'm sure it will be in your favor any day now.
We know the Riverdale musical episodes are equal parts fun and exhausting since you're all putting in so much extra time doing vocals and choreography, so what was the vibe like on set this year?
This one, being our third musical episode, we've kind of learned how to do it and what to expect, which takes a lot of the stress out of it. We started choreography much earlier this year and I got my recordings done really early this year, so by the time we were shooting it, it was more technical of nailing the camera choreography, rather than nailing the actual dancing choreography. I do think this year there was a noticeable ease compared to previous years, which I was really thankful for -- but it was still crazy!
Next week, on Thursday, April 23, we're going to see Kevin crossover to Katy Keene for an episode. Since Katy Keene is set a few years in the future, what can you tease about what Kevin will be up to?
So Kevin kind of goes to, basically, put on a play that he's written with the Katy Keene characters and Pepper is putting it on. First of all, it was so much fun. They're such a cool group of actors and they're so nice and shooting in New York was really cool. But yeah, so Kevin goes out there and Pepper helps him put on this play, and then we find out something has happened to Kevin since high school in New York, so Pepper kind of helps him out of that situation. We learn a little bit more about what Kevin is up to post-high school, which is fun and I'm wearing like the same costumes but a little twisted and a little bit different.
We love the idea of Kevin and Josie reuniting and living together in New York. Are you open to potentially crossing over to Katy Keene full time?
Well, you know, in our industry, you're always open to anything. I think right now Kevin is pretty ingrained in Riverdale, but that idea has been floated out there. I think there's something really romantic about being on Riverdale the entire span of the show and I really want to do that. I think that's what we're all looking at and what I'd like to do. In the meantime, if there's an episode here or there where they think that Kevin will fit into Katy Keene, I'll gladly fly over to New York for a week or two to shoot an episode, but I do hope to stay on Riverdale for the rest of the years we have.
We think that it would be really great to see Riverdale fast forward a few years, and many fans also seem to be rooting for that idea! Do you think a time jump could be a possibility for season five?
I mean, obviously, we're in our senior year of high school and you know, we'll see what happens. I think [our creator] Roberto [Aguirre-Sacasa] and the writers are cooking up something steamy for the next season and I know, from what I've heard, it's going to be a totally new show with the same characters, so I'm excited to see what they do. I think it sounds like a cool idea, but I have heard all kinds of crazy ideas -- so you'll probably know before I do! [Laughs]
What can you tease for what's coming next on Riverdale?
It gets pretty out of control pretty quickly and the town is about to lose its mind!
Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.